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Roger Waters’ Poland gigs off amid Ukraine row

Two scheduled concerts in Poland by Roger Waters have been cancelled amid controversy over the Pink Floyd co-founder’s comments on the war in Ukraine.

The 79-year-old, who was due to perform at Tauron Arena in Krakow in April 2023 as part of his This Is Not a Drill Tour, wrote an open letter to Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska, in which he claimed “extreme nationalists” had “set your country on the path to this disastrous war”. He also criticised the west for supplying Ukraine with weapons.

The letter prompted an angry response, with Krakow city councillor Łukasz Wantuch urging people to boycott the gigs and the city council due to vote this week on a resolution to declare Waters persona non grata.

Promoter Live Nation Poland confirmed the shows will now no longer go ahead but did not give a reason for the cancellation. A spokesman for the venue declined to comment.

“I have been looking forward to sharing my message of love with the people of Poland”

Responding to an article in the Guardian, Waters denied claims his team had made the decision to cancel.

“Your papers are wrong in their assertions that either, I or my management, has cancelled my forthcoming shows in Krakow, we haven’t,” he says in a Facebook post. “It is true that a town councillor in Krakow, a Mr Łukasz Wantuch has threatened to hold a meeting asking the council to declare me ‘Persona non grata’ because of my public efforts to encourage all involved in the disastrous war in Ukraine, especially the governments of the USA and Russia, to work towards a negotiated peace.

“If Mr Łukasz Wantuch achieves his aim, and my forthcoming concerts in Krakow are cancelled, it will be a sad loss for me, because I have been looking forward to sharing my message of love with the people of Poland… His draconian censoring of my work will deny them the opportunity to make up their own minds.”


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The decade in live: 2012

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

As in the previous 12 months, 2012 saw the live music industry still grappling with the effects of the global economic crisis, with many countries just beginning to clamber out of recession and others heading for dreaded ‘double dips’.

This continuing economic uncertainty naturally bit into the leisure spend of discriminating ticket buyers with a variety of entertainment options – though the world did not, as predicted by some long-dead Mexicans, come to an end.

Elsewhere, the weather gods interfered with yet more festivals, while Hurricane Sandy had a devastating effect on the industry in the New York area. In the UK, meanwhile, the Olympics scored on many levels, but provided far too much competition for many.


2012 in numbers

The top 50 worldwide tours grossed a combined US$3 billion in 2012, according to Pollstar, down around 2% from $3.07bn in 2011.

Madonna’s MDNA tour was the clear No1, grossing $296.1 million, ahead of second-placed Bruce Springsteen, whose E Street Band earned $210.2m. Both acts played to more than 2m fans worldwide 2012.

Roger Waters’ The Wall generated $186.4m to come in at No3, and was also the highest-ranking hold-over from the 2011 chart, where he placed No5 with a gross of $103.6 million.

Reflecting the lingering impact of the financial crisis, the total tickets sold by the top 50 tours was 34.9m, which continued the decline from 35.5m the previous year (and well off the pace from 2009, when the top 50 sold 45.3 million, says Pollstar).


2012 in brief

FKP Scorpio buys a stake in Utrecht-based booking agency and artist management company Friendly Fire.

Touring festival Big Day Out calls time on its New Zealand leg after promoter Ken West admits that falling audience numbers have made the Auckland show unviable.


Madonna sparks controversy when she tells Newsweek  magazine fans should “work all year, scrape the money together” for a $300 ticket to her MDNA tour.

Private-equity firm CVC Asia Pacific puts its Australian ticketing company, Ticketek, and Sydney’s Allphones Arena up for a sale in a bid to reduce a A$2.7bn (€2.1bn) debt run-up by Nine Entertainment, which owns the assets.

Stuart Galbraith buys out AEG’s 50% stake in Kilimanjaro Live for an undisclosed sum. Both parties say they will continue to work together on events in future. (Kili later cancels the 2012 edition of Sonisphere at Knebworth, which was to have featured Kiss, Faith No More and Marilyn Manson.)

Ebay-owned secondary ticketing service, StubHub, launches operations in the UK and admits it is looking at further expansion across Europe.

Roger Waters's The Wall tour was the third most lucrative of 2012

Roger Waters’s The Wall tour was the third most lucrative of 2012 (© Brennan Schnell/Eastscene.com/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0))

Serbian authorities arrest the venue owner and other individuals following a fire at the Contrast nightclub in Novi Sad that leaves six people dead.

Tupac Shakur, who died 15 years previous, is the main talking point at Coachella, as a multimillion-dollar hologram of the rapper appears on stage alongside Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg.

Viagogo raises eyebrows by shifting its operational base from the UK to Switzerland, amid speculation it wants to resell tickets for the Olympic Games without falling foul of British law.

Investment firm Silver Lake Partners completes a transaction to acquire a 31% stake in William Morris Endeavor.

Former AEG Germany CEO Detlef Kornett forms a venue consultancy, Verescon, with DEAG with Peter Schwenkow.

Swedish telecom operator Tele2 pays an undisclosed sum to secure naming rights for Stockholm’s new 40,000-capacity stadium, operated by AEG.

Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield and Dizzee Rascal performed at the London 2012 opening ceremony
Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield and Dizzee Rascal performed at the London 2012 opening ceremony (© Matt Deegan/Flickr (CC BY 2.0))

Live Nation appoints former CAA exec David Zedeck to the role of executive VP and president of global talent and artist development.

Artists including Paul McCartney, Mike Oldfield, Dizzee Rascal and Emeli Sandé are each paid £1 for their performances at the Olympics opening ceremony. The show attracts 26.9m viewers in the UK alone, and billions more worldwide.

Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot are jailed for two years each, after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

AEG drops its claim against Lloyd’s of London on a multimillion-dollar insurance policy, following the death of Michael Jackson.

C3 Presents’ Lollapalooza debuted in Brazil in AprilC3 Presents’ Lollapalooza debuted in Brazil in April (© Henrique Oli/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0))

Glastonbury Festival takes just 100 minutes to sell out all 135,000 tickets for next summer’s event, despite not naming a single act on the 2013 bill.

C3 Presents extends an arrangement with Globo Organization’s GEO for more events in Brazil, following a successful Lollapalooza.

AEG is awarded the contract to take over shows at London’s prestigious Hyde Park, ending Live Nation’s decade-long relationship with the 80,000-capacity space.

Frank Barsalona, founder of Premier Talent, dies aged 74. Premier was the first agency to work exclusively with rock artists, with clients including the Yardbirds, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, U2 and Van Halen.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a number of bidders are in contention to acquire AEG, despite a reported $10bn asking price.

Irving Azoff unexpectedly resigns as chairman of Live Nation and CEO of its Front Line Management Group, to concentrate on his own artist management company.


Whitney Houston

Who we lost

Notable industry deaths in 2012 included South by Southwest creative director Brent Grulke, Lasse Ollsen of Swedish promoter Viva Art Music, Jon Lord of Deep Purple, Armin Rahn, founder of Munich-based Armin Rahn Agency and Management, Radiohead drum tech Scott Johnson, Perth Arena general manager David Humphreys, R&B legend Etta James, pop powerhouse Whitney Houston, the Bee Gees’ Robin Gibb, disco diva Donna Summer, the Monkees’ Davy Jones and legendary agents Armin Rahm and Frank Barsalona.


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Politics overshadows successful 64th Eurovision

The 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest wrapped up on Saturday at Expo Tel Aviv’s Pavilion 2 (10,000-cap.), Israel, in a contest that has seen the music industry divided on political, rather than musical, issues.

The Netherlands won Eurovision 2019 with singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence’s performance of piano ballad ‘Arcade’. The Dutch artist received 492 points, followed by Italy’s Mahmood with 465 and Russia’s Sergey Lazarev with 369. The UK’s Michael Rice placed last, with a total of 16 points, for his rendition of ‘Bigger Than Us’.

“I have been so delighted with this year’s competition and we have all been very impressed with the wonderful talented artists who have taken part this year,” says Jon Ola Sand, the European Boradcating Union’s (EBU) head of live events and the executive supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest.

“I would like to thank them for the hard work and dedication they have given us. Each artist has brought something unique to the contest and embodied what this contest is about,” adds Sand.

However, music was not the main topic of conversation surrounding Eurovision 2019. Following the win of Israeli act Netta Barzilai last year, the 2019 competition took place in Tel Aviv, sparking controversy due to the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Despite calls to boycott the event, Madonna performed at the grand final on Saturday night. The singer opened her performance with a call for unity, declaring: “Let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together.”

Madonna’s rendition of her new single ‘Future’ featured two dancers who displayed Israeli and Palestinian flags on their backs, walking arm-in-arm.

“Each artist has brought something unique to the contest and embodied what this contest is about”

Icelandic act Hatari, who finished in tenth place, also displayed Palestinian flags during the contest.

The EBU states that both sets of artists violate its rules, which designate Eurovision as a “non-political event”.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel denounced what it called the “fig-leaf gestures of solidarity from international artists”.

Ticket sales for this year’s Eurovision were lower than expected. According to Israeli paper Globes, between 5,000 and 7,000 foreign guests visited the country for Eurovision, including the participating artists’ delegations and journalists. Previous predictions expected the competition to attract between 20,000 and 30,000 tourists.

Local media puts the low numbers down to high hotel rates and steep ticket prices. Tickets to Saturday’s final set fans back £373 for prime seats and £252 for standard seats. Tickets for last year’s final, held at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal, cost between £31 and £262.

Calls for a boycott may have also have affected ticket sales.

“Let’s never underestimate the power of music to bring people together”

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, an initiative working to “pressure Israel to comply with international law”, initiated the call for a boycott of Eurovision 2019. BDS claims that more than 150,000 people responded to its call, including artists and music-related organisations.

Musicians including Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Wolf Alice and Brian Eno urged a boycott of the event, due to Israel’s “grave, decades-old violations of Palestinian human rights”.

The Musicians’ Union of Ireland similarly supported the boycott, calling on its members to attend protests in support of sidelining the contest.

Entertainment industry non-profit organisation, the Creative Community For Peace (CCFP), established a movement to oppose the boycott, stating that music “transcends boundaries and brings people together”.

The CCFP initiative has more than 35,000 signatories, including Sharon Osbourne, Gene Simmons and Justin Bieber manager Scooter Braun, as well as individuals from the Madison Square Garden Company, the Recording Academy/ Grammys and AEG Presents.


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“How many concerts are they going to stage?”: Rival factions plot Venezuela shows

There will be rival benefit concerts in Venezuela this week, with British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and the internationally unrecognised Venezuelan government respectively organising competing anti- and pro-regime events.

Sir Richard – whose music industry ventures include Virgin Records, the UK’s V Festival and the new Virgin Fest in the US – last week announced a Live Aid-style event, Venezuela Aid Live, to raise US$100 million funds for victims of the country’s worsening political and economic crisis.

Branson, reportedly a supporter of Juan Guaidó, the internationally recognised interim president of Venezuela, will hold his event over the Colombian border, in the city of Cucuta, this Friday (22 February). Latin stars Luis Fonsi – of ‘Despacito’ fame – Danny Ocean, Juanes, Carlos Vives, Lele Pons, Maluma, Nacho and Fonseca are slated to perform, as is Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz and Britain’s Peter Gabriel.

Around 300,000 people are expected to attend, with the whole concert available to watch by international audiences via live stream.

“Do we really want Venezuela to turn into another Iraq or Syria and Libya?”

Not to be outdone, the government of president Nicholas Maduro – who clings onto power with Chinese and Russian backing, following a disputed 2018 election – today announced a two-day concert of its own, set to take place in Venezuela on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 June.

According to Muros Invisibles, a news agency based in Colombia, Maduro’s ‘megaconcert’ will be called Hands Off Venezuela – a rallying cry adopted by those opposed to regime change in Venezuela – and follow a day of protests on Saturday.

Controversially, Maduro’s government has ordered security forces to block Western humanitarian aid from entering the country, despite severe food and medicine shortages, saying the aid is intended by the US to “enslave” Venezuelans.

Dylan Baddour, a Colombia-based journalist, reports Venezuela Aid Live will take place near the Tienditas International Bridge, which is clogged with shipping containers containing US aid. Yesterday evening, Maduri said Venezuela would instead import 300 tons of aid from its ally, Russia.

Despite the deepening humanitarian crisis, Roger Waters – the outspoken former Pink Floyd frontman and a supporter of Maduro – has criticised Sir Richard for his perceived ties to the pro-Western Guaidó, alleging Venezuela Aid Live is a front for a US-backed coup.

In a video posted to his Facebook page, Waters says: “Even if you listen to their shtick, it has nothing to do with humanitarian aid at all. It has to do with Richard Branson – and I’m not surprised by this – having bought the US saying, ‘We have decided to take over Venezuela, for whatever our reasons may be.’

“But it has nothing to do with the needs of the Venezuelan people, it has nothing to do with democracy, it has nothing to do with freedom, and it has nothing to do with aid.

“I have friends who are in Caracas right now. There is, so far, no civil war, no mayhem, no murder, no apparent dictatorship, no mass imprisonment of opposition, no suppression of the press, none of that is going on – even though that is the narrative that is being sold to the rest of us.

“They’re now making up a concert. How many concerts are they going to stage?”

“So we just need to back off – particularly Richard Branson.”

He also appealed to Gabriel – a friend who usually shares Waters’ politics, for example in their support of the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement – to “please call me. I want to talk to you about this, because it’s very easy to be led down a garden path that ends in regime change. Do we really want Venezuela to turn into another Iraq or Syria and Libya? I don’t. And neither do the Venezuelan people.”

It is unclear whether Waters will perform at the Maduro-backed concert, which has so far yet to announce a line-up. IQ has contacted the Venezuelan information ministry for comment.

The move by Maduro’s government to stage a rival concert is “desperate”, Guaidó tells the Associated Press. “They’re debating whether the aid should come in or not […] They don’t know what to do.

“They’re now making up a concert. How many concerts are they going to stage?”


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